halfway homes, catacombs, twilight zones

Previously

Two figures trudge through a mountain valley in a foggy part of Ukraine at dusk, one complaining to the other.

"...I mean, abstractly, I knew temperatures this low existed, in laboratories, but I didn't know it was possible to be this cold. How much further? Can we stop? I think I'm dying." This is Rula. She isn't actually dying. She just hates weather. Of almost every variety.

Alexander thinks it isn't that cold, but doesn't say so. "If we stop now you'll just get colder. There's a cave coming up. It can't be more than a kilometre."

"Yes! Alex! And this mysterious cave! It was summer the last time you made this hike. There was sun! And, you know, visibility! I have never been this cold in my whole life. If we die of exposure I'm going to kill you."

"Look, it's not going to get too much worse today and it'll be better tomorrow. We find the cave, set up the stove, get warm, we'll be fine. We'll be fine! It's around behind these trees. We'll watch the stars. Tomorrow's going to be beautiful and sunny and we'll reach Skoliava by midday. It'll be all downhill."

"You said it'd be picturesque. I hate this. All I see is fog. And scrawny pine trees. We'll never find it."

Twenty minutes of relatively silent trudging elapse. Then, Alexander announces, "This is it." He points at an long, smoothed rut of cold dry mud just coming up ahead. "This is where I slipped over on the way down the hill last time around. We turn left here, and the cave's about two hundred metres up this track. We'd have been able to see it on the way down into the valley, if there wasn't any fog."

"I see a chocolate wrapper," says Rula, accusingly.

"Where?"

"There."

"Well, then," says Alexander, guiltily, picking it up and stuffing it in his pocket. "We know we're in the right place."

Another ten minutes later they have made it. Rula grudgingly admits that the cave, while dark, miserable and scary, at least offers protection from the elements. She climbs into her sleeping bag for warmth while Alexander gets the stove out and starts heating beans up. She is asleep by the time he's done, so he eats them all himself. Then he cuddles up to her and tries to get comfortable.

*

"Wake up."

Alexander flails around, unable to escape his sleeping bag. He makes primitive proto-human noises and screws up his eyes. It's still dark. Very dark, actually. He checks his watch and it is not yet seven in the morning.

"There's a tunnel," says Rula. "Do you see it? Inside the cave."

Alexander squints in the direction he knows Rula must be pointing. Some distance away in the depths of the cave is a very faint yellowish circle, the mouth of a man-sized tunnel illuminated from within by what must be a tiny incandescent bulb. The light is barely visible; in daylight it would have gone completely unnoticed.

"It's nothing," he lies. He actually has no idea what the tunnel is. All he knows is that he is still technically asleep, and wants to stay that way.

"It was there before," says Rula. She is holding his digital camera and apparently has flipped backwards through the photographs until she found the ones Alexander took when he was on the previous hike. "Here." She hands the camera over with the screen showing a photograph taken inside the cave. Two men in their fifties - Alexander's father and his uncle - are standing side by side smiling, in walking gear. There is camping equipment scattered around the place. The flash has lit up the interior of the cave behind them. The rim of the tunnel mouth is just about visible, if you know what you're looking for.

Alex compares the photograph with what he can see in front of him in reality. Same scenery. Same tunnel mouth. He and his father and uncle must have completely missed it last time through.

"So who built that?" asks Rula.

"It's six-forty in the morning," complains Alex, handing back the camera. "Go back to sleep."

"I can't sleep," says Rula. "It's too cold and there's humming."

"Humming." Alexander listens briefly. She's right. It's coming from the tunnel.

*

It's narrow, barely wide enough for a man to slide through sideways. There's a lot of dust and rubble on the floor around the mouth and going down into the interior-- whoever built it didn't clean up after themselves very carefully. A series of tiny light bulbs on twisted black wires is screwed into the ceiling at intervals of a few metres. There's enough light to see that the tunnel goes down for ten metres or more before curving out of sight.

"What do you think is down there?" asks Rula.

"It must be a mine. Or an archaeological dig. Rula--"

Rula flicks on a torch and begins to descend, brushing crumbs of stone from both walls as she steadies herself.

"I'll be back up in a few minutes," she says.

Alexander has the distinctly unnerving feeling that he's seen this movie. "It could be dangerous," he replies. "There could be a cave-in."

Rula keeps going and soon she is out of sight. The words "I'll be back soon" echo up from the tunnel.

Alexander squints into the depths. He shuffles around the cave, with his hands in his pockets, for half a minute. Then he curses, grabs a torch of his own from his kit bag, and descends after her.

*

After thirty metres of scraping Alexander emerges, blinking, into a fluorescent-lit subterranean corridor. The walls are painted a greenish grey and the ceiling is low. To his right the corridor ends in a heavy wooden door with a small window of wired glass revealing only darkness beyond. To his left it extends a little way before turning right and continuing into the mountain. There are similar doors opposite the tunnel mouth and just around the corner. On the floor is a very large mechanical drill and a pile of rubble large enough that Alexander is forced to clamber over it to get past. "Rula?"

Rula shouts. "Oh, you came. I think it's an old Soviet lab!"

"We really shouldn't be here. What if someone's here?"

"Nobody's here. Listen. It's just a hum. It must be an old generator." Rula tugs Alexander and he reluctantly follows her as she leads him off down the corridor.

Seemingly every other fluorescent light tube is dark or flickering.

"So somebody built this, just in the last year?"

"No, it must have been here for decades. And then somebody dug their way in recently."

"So how come the generator still works after so long?" asks Alexander.

"Because whoever dug the tunnel reactivated it, dummy."

Alexander stops momentarily at a fat line of yellow and black striped warning tape in the floor. The tape runs all the way across the floor and up the walls and across the ceiling above, forming a complete ring around the corridor. There's a second ring of tape about ten centimetres further along. On the floor and ceiling between the two rings are narrow metal rails; inside each wall a thick slab of metal is visible. Alexander notes a pair of small keypads on the wall flanking the tape, each with a big red button with a warning stencilled below. It is a containment door, retracted.

Rula doesn't notice that he has hesitated and continues past more dark doors and around the next corner. Then she screams. Alexander rushes over, sees the skeleton slumped against the wall and screams also.

It's grey, and very decomposed. Its sex would be difficult to guess at if not for the man-sized heavy sweater the corpse is wearing, knitted in several horrifically clashing colours. Dark trousers, thick glasses, cheap watch. "He's got a gun in his hand," says Rula, recovering. "He was trying to defend himself. Look. Big hole in the sweater. And the stain on the wall. Somebody shot him. Big damn bullet."

"Here?" Alexander stares at the situation for a long time. The wall behind the corpse is grey, not the loathsome pale green of the rest of the facility. In fact, it looks like there was more corridor there at one time, before it was sealed off. There is just a single strip of yellow/black tape, then another indentation in the walls, floor and ceiling, and then just blank concrete.

Rula takes a photograph using Alexander's camera. "At least a decade old," she says. "This way."

*

Alexander realises that Rula is following a fat blue industrial power cable on the floor. "I want to see where it goes," she says.

They pass two more bodies, these ones clothed in Soviet military gear, sprawled on the floor with machine guns nearby. Rula nearly slips on a spent ammunition casing. She takes more photographs of the bleak, labyrinthine facility. As they proceed further, here and there are more guns on the floor, and scattered paperwork. Dropped styrofoam coffee cups. And a great deal of dust and a smell of stale air. Alexander stoops to pick up a photocopied piece of paper. He can read the text, but it's still impossible to understand. Too much scientific and military terminology. "There's a picture on this file. It looks like a big egg."

"Alex, does it look like this?" Rula is up ahead at the next T-junction.

He hurries to catch up with Rula, looks in the direction she is staring, and stops in his tracks. There are two severely bent and broken blast doors lying convex on the floor, with signs of many different colours plastered across them, red and white, blue and white, yellow and black. Warning. Unidentified object. Warning. Unknown hazard. Possible radiation hazard. Possible biohazard. Possible memetic hazard. Behind them is a warning-striped archway like elsewhere in the facility, and behind them all is a gigantic cubic vault, perhaps twenty-five metres on a side.

At the centre of the vault, suspended in a complex gantry composed partially of conventional scaffolding and partially of padded hydraulic shock absorbers, is a mirrored egg. It is colourless (the only colours are reflected from elsewhere in the room) and held upright, and it is about the right size to hold a coccooned, adult male. There are two bright spotlights focused on it from above, which reflect directly into Alexander and Rula's eyes, making it look as if the egg has two blazing white unblinking eyes.

In The Event Of An Emergency This Door Will Close And Lock Automatically

All Personnel Requiring Access To Vault A/T/Y Must Receive Authorisation From The Operations Commander, INCLUDING EMERGENCY PERSONNEL

*** CAUTION: E.B.S. Containment Procedures Are In Effect Beyond This Point ***

There are eight dead people on the floor around the room. There is dropped scientific equipment all over the room. There is an antique 1980s computer terminal to the immediate left of the door with a skeleton in a white coat slumped over it. As Alexander advances gingerly behind Rula he realises there is a balcony running around the upper half of the room, accessible by ladder, with several more dead people observing from above. The blue cable Rula was following is plugged into an industrial electricity outlet embedded in the floor in this room.

"What do you think that thing is?" Rula asks, transfixed by her own reflection. "American satellite technology? It looks like it could be an advanced model Sputnik. Or just a big blob of mercury."

"I don't like being in here," says Alexander. His skin is crawling. He feels like he is being watched, like the bodies are shifting when he isn't looking. "We need to get out."

Rula photographs everything. She photographs the egg twice, because the first picture has a bright white spot in the middle, the reflected flash.

There's a wheeled medical stretcher halfway up the egg's supporting scaffold. Rula climbs up a ladder to get there, though there is a small elevator platform. The stretcher has leather-and-sheepskin ankle and wrist restraints. The restraints are torn. To the side of the stretcher is a platform where a doctor could stand to treat a patient who was lying on the stretcher. There are two tanks, presumably oxygen or nitrous oxide, with a plastic face mask on the end of a long hose. To the other side of the stretcher is the egg, precisely where the patient can easily insert his or her arm into it. If such a thing were possible. On closer inspection it looks like the wrist restraint on that side isn't torn.

Rula leans forward and gently flicks the egg with her finger and it just goes tap, softly, absorbing most of the sound, like a solid stone.

"Rula, there's blood on that thing," says Alexander suddenly. Rula stands back. Alexander is right. There is a bone sticking out of the egg right where the gurney is, and there is a trail of blood which dribbled all the way down the shell to the bottom tip, and underneath it, obscured by shadow, there is a wide dark puddle.

Rula begins to say, "So, someone stuck their hand in there and-- and they had to saw--"

"--there is blood all over this room." Alexander is turning around, suddenly looking more carefully at the walls. He was paying too much attention to the egg. Maybe his visual cortex just wrote it all off as water damage, peeling wallpaper, whatever. But the pillow on the gurney isn't dyed red, it's stained, and several of the big wall panels have explosions over them, like splattered paint, and there are wide dried dark red shadows below many of the corpses. (Looking closer, Alex sees at least two femurs shattered, and arms broken at angles which hurt just to think about. In fact, even the bone in the side of the egg looks like it was broken off, not neatly sawn...) There's blood dripping down from the balcony, below some of the corpses up there, where it must have pooled and then overflowed, and there are even a few patches spattered on the floodlights, suspended from chains twenty metres up in the air. There are bloody footprints.

A human body contains a great deal of blood, but it is not stored under high pressure.

When Alexander's eyes meet Rula's it is clear that she is finally getting it. She reaches the exit before he does and sprints away along the corridor, again following the blue cable along the floor. As they run, Alexander spots green emergency exit signs here and there on the walls. When they return to the T-junction where they found the first skeleton, the blue cable goes right, back the way they came, but the green luminous running man points left, towards the dead scientist and corridor which is filled with cement.

"I think that's the exit," says Rula, pointing.

"I know," says Alexander. "He was trying to escape, opened the blast door and found solid concrete behind it. When they found out what was happening everybody was sealed in. To stop whatever-it-is from getting out."

"Whatever what was?"

"Just run," says Alexander, "just run. I don't want to know."

They hurry along the final few dim and dirty corridors. They pick their way past piles of black dusty rock hewn out of the mountain and reach the tunnel mouth, its tiny yellow bulbs still illuminating the way to the surface.

Alexander bends down and scoops up the electric drill from the rockpile. "Rula," he says, holding it up, just as she is about to duck into the tunnel and start climbing. He raises the drill and revs the trigger, once. Pyeeeeoooooooow. "This is the cable we've been following."

*

By the time they get to the top of the tunnel day has broken. The sun is in exactly the right spot to shine its orange rays directly into the cave, dazzling them and casting sharp shadows on the interior wall. The morning air is fresh, even warm, and from their vantage point Alexander and Rula can see all of the rest of the mountain valley and the plains beyond and even the town of Skoliava, half a day's walk away.

From here it's all downhill.

Next: Die

Title is from the lyric to "Rag And Bone" by The White Stripes

Discussion (39)

2008-07-19 00:44:42 by PseudoFenton:

Hmm.. So I'm placing bets that the criminal that was getting killed isn't dead, is now immortal, and has broken free! Its too late to think up anymore complex ideas sadly, I'll reread it tomoz and see what I think then.

2008-07-19 01:55:25 by JonnyAxehandle:

Wait what? Why did those two stories warrant their own sub-section? 1970 was long and seemed out of place, but this?

2008-07-19 02:34:01 by Thrack:

Whether it's immortal or not it's certainly got a lot of strength. It seems to have acted crazy too, just like a member of the Line who is experiencing Birth. Apparently the Egg becomes completely impenetrable even to living humans once that... rule is broken and something from a dead human is placed inside of the Egg. Hmnn... that's right, that person is/was dead. Hrmnnn.... The arm inside the Egg was torn off? Hmnnn... maybe the Egg reproduces everything inside it (that is not from a living human) very rapidly and violently shoots it out, in this case that would be the blood... but also the skin and bone and there doesn't seem to be numerous fragments of bone everywhere so that can't be it. Maybe I'm thinking in too constrained a way. Maybe the Egg turned him into the undead with super strength and... self replicating blood? Hmnn... the person's strength could be done in the same way that the Line have strength but in that case this person can also fly... which would explain why there is blood on the ceiling and walls. Hrmnn... has this person done anything that the Line can not do? Or at least that we can be sure that the Line can not do? The only thing I can think of is the blood... but maybe that blood is mostly from all those other people? I guess that depends on how many people there are. I'll have to check to see when the Line began. SUMMARY My theory is that this Egg was activated by placing a dead human arm inside of it and the Egg created the Line at that moment and has continued to cause more Births every year ever since. Presumably this member of the Line has survived and is capable of surviving without food and water and oxygen for long periods of time somehow and she/he has now escaped. I'm assuming that it has simply taken decades to drill a tunnel out and that there was enough energy to last that long. Hmnn... after decades of isolation and being with numerous corpses this person might be insane.... Of course, this part of my theory assumes that the person survived and got out, not that someone else got in. Though if someone did get in that could make sense considering someone was telling about the events in the first part of Oul's Egg. Oh, and apparently the Egg hardens after being activated. That's my theory on what's going on. Does anyone else have any? Maybe one that suggests where the Egg might have come from in the first place?

2008-07-19 02:54:52 by EriktheRed:

Aw, I was hoping for a third installment, merely because I think this is my favorite substory within Fine Structure yet. So that tunnel was not some third party tunneling _into_ the structure, but a powerful creature, like a Line member, making its escape. I'm sure this is not the last we'll see of whatever the Egg has done. @ Thrack: No, I don't think the blood would be from those other corpses, because (if memory serves) during the Line battle over China, the newest Line member was reducing citizens to fine, crimson mist. While that would easily paint the walls and ceiling, it wouldn't leave much of a corpse behind. But, then again, there were maybe a dozen corpses in the Egg chamber. That doesn't mean that there could not have been _three_ dozen before the disaster, with only the remaining corpses surviving... if you can call being brutally slain in a somewhat-less-brutal fashion "surviving". Aside from that one (very potentially gory) discrepancy, you basically just beat me to my own theory. Curses.

2008-07-19 03:20:31 by Thrack:

Yes, that other Line member did do that but he was the 11th member of the Line, this one is presumably the first and therefore weakest member of the Line. But I have a second discrepancy, according to pozorvlak's timeline the first birth was in 1999 (http://pozorvlak.livejournal.com/93907.html#cutid2). But if I'm right then this person became a metahuman long before then, but perhaps this person got out of that place in 1999 and that is when the Births really began in earnest? Or maybe the year before? If this is the case then it could be explained by the possibility that the Egg can see where a member of the Line is, either by using that persons own senses or some form of clairvoyance, and it chooses the next member based on who is sees. Due to the fact that there has been no living person to see there has not been a Birth until that person escaped. Or it could be something else entirely. It probably is.

2008-07-19 04:17:45 by Thrack:

A couple more things. First, I think I meant the 10th member of the Line, not the 11th. Second, in the description of the Egg it says that it is the size for a cocooned adult male, is the Egg smaller than it used to be? Third, why is blood STILL dripping from places? I'm sure that was described here. Also, maybe there is still too much blood in that place, even to have come from two or three dozen people.

2008-07-19 07:26:45 by YarKramer:

I took that bit to mean that it had dried long ago; it was just in the "shape" of something dripping. If I'm making any sense there ...

2008-07-19 08:39:34 by Crane:

I don't buy that it's a Line member. For one, the time doesn't fit, two, the Firstborn might not be strong enough to break through concrete, and THREE, I don't see why the Egg would be causing magical power-giving lightning to strike random people around the world. My bet is that it's related somehow to Mitch's species.

2008-07-19 12:09:09 by Val:

If the tunnel was dug by someone escaping, why would he/she install light bulbs along the way?

2008-07-19 15:55:40 by Cory:

@val: probably so they could see what they were drilling... I think everyone is looking way to hard into this. Occam's razor suggests your theories are far too confounded :) My guess would be it's related to Mitch's species (thus, I agree with whoever just said that.) But, we don't have enough information about the egg to say *anything* about it, except that it used to allow *only* living human flesh in, and now it doesn't allow human flesh in. Also, it's ellipsoid that's about the size of a man.

2008-07-20 00:26:50 by pozorvlak:

The first Line member would be twice as powerful as the average human being. The timeline needs updating, but IIRC the Births would actually start slightly later in the revised timeline. So this probably isn't a Birth.

2008-07-21 14:06:49 by andy:

I feel like I'm the only one who saw the words 'electric drill' at the end... I don't think superhuman strength was used to escape. I think it took a very long time.

2008-07-21 14:14:16 by strangeperson:

The new tunnel was dug by the same people from whose perspective the previous installment in this subdirectory is written. Too early to be a Line member, and none of the other metahumans are one-armed. It's possible that the egg is still permeable, but that a glove or nail polish was involved in the most recent, very informal test.

2008-07-21 14:24:22 by Chris:

Two theoris: 1. At the point the prisoner died, everyone in the room with him spontaneously exploded (minus their bones), excluding the prisoner, whose arm was trapped in the egg, leaving him in an undead super-human state. He probably lays there for a while with his arm trapped, and eventually just breaks it off. By this time the manual seal in thing has been activated, the prisoner gets up and calmly kills the rest of the people in the facility before slowly drilling his way out. Why he chose to drill through rock wall rather than eight feet of concrete is a mystery to me... 2. The prisoner dieing was the "key" that "unlocked" the egg and released the intelligent being locked within. The being was the evil being that that other guy from the parent dimension was fighting, and he locked him within the egg somehow. The being escaped somehow, either bodily into the prisoner or in some other form. Then somehow killed everyone in the room with it very quickly (since for some reason I got the impression that everyone died near the position they were in when the experiment started). Perhaps the egg de-pressurized the room causing the people to explode from within in the process of the being escaping. Either way, it appears the people outside of the chamber survived long enough to identify a threat and hit the emergency sealant button before being killed by whatever it was (un-dead prisoner/super-being). What is unclear to me however is why this being would choose to drill through many feet of solid rock instead of only 8 feet of concrete, which by-the-way seems to me would have taken a good bit of time to actually dry...

2008-07-21 18:57:01 by Stark:

Chris, the way i read the concrete seal is that it is 8 feet across but actually fills an entire elevator shaft and so is presumably many tens of meters thick. Drilling straight up an elevator shaft would be somewhat difficult to say the least.

2008-07-21 21:17:18 by Kugala:

The damage found is reminiscent of a line member birth; the heavy damage found nearby followed by a weakening to their normal state. A person at double normal human strength wouldn't be able to break through concrete, but the initial burst might just give them enough to knock some blast doors off of hinges, and kill anyone in the room. Also, the mention that the first person found dead was likely from a gunshot, which implies that whatever took out the egg room was either weakened, or not responsible. So I've basically got 3 theories. -A line birth, which destroyed the egg room but weakened soon after. Later drilled out. -Something else came out of the egg (Mitch's enemy was suggested.) Left in another manner than the escape tunnel. Survivor(s) in the complex dug out later, with perhaps some infighting. -Simply a large explosion from the egg. Survivors dug out. I doubt, given the mention that the concrete is for Nuclear, Bio, Chemical, etc hazards, that a mere explosion would be enough to cause the lab to seal (Not to mention an explosion is too boring.) I also find it odd, given the choice of drilling through a concrete plug (Regardless of the thickness), that the escape hole was made through essentially a random wall and connected to a handy cave outside. Bringing the option that the drill is a red herring, or perhaps someone outside was forewarned and dug in towards the sound of the drill bit on the wall.

2008-07-22 03:34:04 by Jake:

I think the egg is what Mitch is after, the new Mitch. The egg contains the higher dimensional bad thing...

2008-07-22 03:49:29 by Knut:

We really don't know much about what is happening here, but it almost certainly isn't a line birth, or at least not a normal one. To begin with the first of the line would only be twice as strong as a normal human (if the normal line rules were observed), which clearly isn't enough to rip open a blast door. If you read the line stories it is pretty clear that the birth doesn't give you any extra powers, just 15 secounds of insane rage, so that's not an option. In addition we get the problem of why the line didn't continue the next year, since it spreads by a lightning strike with no connection to the previous member (though this seems to have changed, perhaps unintendedly, by the time of 11 who was born underground with no mention of lightning). It is of course posible that number 1 got some special bonus powers, but this raises a really interesting question which is "Why does a being that can rip open closed blast doors and kill armed and resisting soldiers chose to dig his way out with an electric drill?". This peculiar course of action gives the strong impression that the being either lost it's powers, or at least it's strength, after it had disposed of the people and the doors, but before it thought of escaping, or that it never had classical, line-like, superstrength, but only other powers that don't work on concrete or rock, like mind-control. Anyway the being in question is very probably the late male death row prisoner who is now either his old homicidal now super powered self, driven insane and super powered by the egg, posessed by some bad ass 4D deamon or something else entirely. It really is anyone's guess. The only thing that is clear is that it wrecked some serious havok in 1988 and then sat down to screwdrive it's way through meters of rock. btw Chris, you don't explode in zero pressure, your skin is more than strong enough to hold you together. You function fine for 15 - 30 seconds before the deoxygenated blood from your lungs reach your brain and makes you faint. Read more at http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970603.htm

2008-07-22 04:49:43 by Thrack:

I just thought of something, the creatures/beings/people or whatever from Unbelievable Scenes had the ability to alter probabilities so perhaps someone from that world (or whatever you call the place) was brought into the criminal's body or maybe the prisoner was given some probability altering abilities. While digging out that ability may have been used to dig in the direction where the surface is closest and in this case that is in the direction of the cave. This could also be used to explain other things that happened but I think something else caused everything else that happened in that place. Knut, the eleventh Line member was still chosen seemingly randomly and lightning is still involved (even underground) it is just that there is a way to predict who will be chosen and in that case the person was taken underground. Also, it hasn't been mentioned whether the criminal is male or female nor has anything been said about what she/he was convicted of. All that we know for sure about the person is that the person is apparently a criminal was sentenced to death and is willing to help further science in exchange for a sped up timetable and relatively peaceful death. Though what he did to get this sentence can be narrowed down. (In fact the person could theoretically have been framed but that seems unlikely.)

2008-07-22 10:42:31 by Versus:

@Knut: You wouldn't die of exposure, but you might fart very violently. *scnr*

2008-07-22 17:44:09 by Val:

What about the hole being dug by the expedition who reocorded the facts presented in the previous story?

2008-07-23 23:26:38 by Knut:

@Thrack. Just to clear things up. It is highly unlikely that there was lightning involved in the birth of 11. There is no mention of a lightning in the story where the birth occurs, "2048", and a lightning that would penetrate through an underground concrete bunker would, I believe deserve some mention. 11 was still chosen totaly at random, what i meant was simply to comment on the fact that Sam seems to have forgot that there originaly was lightning involved in the births. Also the criminal is definately male, "Several convicted prisoners who had been given the death penalty were approached. (...) One man was selected. (...) The man was transported (...) The first forty centimetres of his arm (...)". You get the idea.

2008-07-25 08:43:08 by Austin:

There could of easily been lightning. For all you know lightning struck the ground above him, or below him. It is a charge that comes from two directions, it could of happened, i think.

2008-07-26 02:35:06 by MGargantua:

I'll just put this out there that this egg eventually gets reused by Mitch during the 1970- ark. None of the years can be trusted so it doesn't matter that this would technically be after that. Mitch can 4D transport stuff into and out of the egg, attaching the cables. And I don't really think the prisoner is still alive. more likely that when he died the egg just sent out a giant shockwave that started a few Cm away from its shell, exploding everybody in the room into gore.

2008-07-26 07:36:47 by Dot:

I think that they might be completely different eggs, as Mitch's egg is described as "metre-wide" while Oul's Egg is stated as 1.8988m and 0.7340m along the axes. But there's still the possibility of the egg growing or shrinking between the stories.

2008-07-30 22:40:53 by Spencer:

My hypothesis is that when he didn't die, the Egg permanetly disabled/paralyzed his arm, and because of that, he had to rip his own arm off. I'll leave the rest 2 you.

2008-07-30 23:04:32 by Crotalus:

I'm enjoying these new stories very much. An anomalous object which defies attempts to discover its origins or purpose. Scientists and researchers are forced to use physical experimentation under strict containment due to a lack of pre-existing knowledge. Your new stories remind me of the SCP Series, except much more detailed and very satisfying. I wonder if you've ever heard of it? http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/main

2008-07-31 08:54:29 by qntm:

I actually stumbled across the SCP Wiki as I was halfway through writing the "Oul's Egg" two-parter and found it to be quite inspirational. SCP-055 is one of mine.

2008-08-02 22:02:16 by Crotalus:

Wow, what a coincidence. I found SCP-055 to be quite humourous, especially the bit about its periodic rediscovery, cause of alarm, and subsequent memory loss.

2008-08-10 04:57:45 by Squid:

Perhaps the egg is now made of normal matter (atoms). "gently flicks the egg with her finger and it just goes tap, softly, absorbing most of the sound, like a solid stone" The egg doesn't absorb, only reflects. (though it could have been the reflected kinetic energy hitting his fingernail.) It would still be reflective due to the now near perfect "finish". If so, it could be sawed in half and it's inside revealed.

2008-09-16 17:31:33 by MikeSty:

@Squid Let's just hope it's yummy assorted chocolate candies. No nuts, though. @Val It appears as though they didn't really know what happened after the experiment was set to take place, so they never had to be inside of the bunker after the lockdown. Most of the story is, however, given in quotes, so there is some sort of character-based omniscience. Though they did know that it wasn't a reactor leak. I'd reckon that this took place down the road. Anyways, the biggest thing that we can conclude is that the egg became solid, and the prisoner had to break his arm off to free himself. I don't know about you guys, but I don't think I could snap my own arm off if it were frozen in something, no matter how angsty I got. Can we then conclude that it was the prisoner's newfound strength (evidenced by the arm-snappage) also resulted in the deaths of everyone in the room and the penetration of the blast doors? I think so. The notion of blood being splattered and soaked everywhere indicates a tremendous release of energy as opposed to methodically killing everyone in the room. It also seems evident that the 1988 or whatever event at Tarczal took place a bit before. They mention "decades", "at least ten years", and "antique 1980s computer" - but we also know that the tunnel is recent. So either the prisoner, or whoever made it out alive, was content with just chilling in that creepy lab for a few years, or more likely that it took a LONG time to drill ... but through thirty meters of rock with a very large industrial drill? One peculiarity that stands out is the fact that whoever dug the tunnel was polite enough to return the drill to the top of the pile of rubble.

2008-10-21 04:24:33 by Tarun:

2 Things to say here: 1) Lightning: As far as I can tell, the lightning isn't the cause of the Births, it's merely a side-effect to all hyperspatial discharges. Whenever a hyperspatial entity wishes to accomplish something in the real world, the burst of energy creates a static discharge which can be observed as lightning under the right circumstances. This implies that when underground, there won't be any lightning. Rather than burying oneself underground to hide from the lightning, it's probably better to stay topside so that you can objectively point and say "Lightning just struck him! Everybody RUN!". :P 2) The perfect place to try and escape: Everyone's searching for theories as to why he picked that particular spot on the wall. It appears that he knew that there was a cave behind it. Someone posited that because he can manipulate luck, he could've just made a 'lucky guess'. I've got a better idea: The Oul Entity has microhyperspatial vision (like Mitch). This pseudo "X-Ray vision" would allow him to get a good superlight picture of the surrounding rock structures around him. He'd be able to see all the caves, and see all the right places to drill/dig to exploit stress in the rocks.

2009-04-08 06:15:31 by MJ:

I just reread this, and I could swear that it used to say that the tunnel *wasn't* there the year before when the pictures were taken. Am I crazy or was there a reason this was changed?

2009-04-08 09:47:30 by qntm:

Yeah, that was changed. I made the change shortly after originally posting the story, but I guess most of the people who first read it missed it, and there is a reason for it. Basically it means that Oul escaped not "within the past year" but "an unspecified number of years ago, possibly just days after the experiment failure", which is a) much more sinister (What has he been up to?) and b) necessary for plot reasons.

2009-04-25 03:41:43 by TheBlob:

Couldn't that be the FIRST Line member? "The people here have been working on it since the first genuine superhuman was positively identified in Russia" - Exponents Ukraine is close enough to Russia for such a mistake to be made, and the slaughter that went on certainly seems to fit the birth of a line member. I think the blood thing was just saying that somehow the blood exploded from the bodies, since it was EVERYWHERE. I doubt it was saying that there was a Quentin Tarantino level of blood around AKA too much blood for the number of bodies. The first line member would have been weak enough to not turn them into mist like 10, but he would probably still create major blood splatters. The only thing I'm not sure about is the time. It says that there were 1980 computers, but that doesn't necessarily mean the experiment took place in the 80's. It could have happened in the 90's, to fit with the birth of the first line member, as that was eleven years ago, according to exponents. Plus, an "egg" would fit with the "birth" of a line member.

2009-04-25 03:58:25 by TheBlob:

One more thing. People have kept saying that a person with double human strength couldn't go through concrete. As we can in the first rule from Power of Two: "Every year, a randomly chosen person on Earth is struck by lightning and gains superpowers." That says nothing about them being "double human strength". They just gain superpowers and are twice as powerful as the previous line member. They could be one hundred times human for all we know. Still, being the first line member, he probably wouldn't be strong enough to go through on his own, thus the drill.

2012-05-27 01:11:51 by Solus:

Does Zykov not have any powers like Mitch? If he does, I don't see why he didn't use them to escape. If he doesn't, I don't see how he killed all those people. =S

2013-03-10 04:04:56 by Evan:

@TheBlob Actually, we do know the first one was double human since there was a line about the 11th feeling gravity at 1/2048 strength.

2017-10-31 06:54:29 by atomicthumbs:

readin' this again, so many years later, and realizing that it's Ye Olde Proto-SCP

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